Friday, February 15, 2008

Trapped In A Cliche

It's been a week where Shamrock Rovers have turned to selling Easter Eggs in an effort to promote their club while Denis O'Brien has lobbed a few Smarties in the direction of the FAI. Meanwhile headline writers across the land have collided blindly in their efforts to concoct the wittiest Trap headline of them all. The sooner we have some on-field action to get excited about the better - thankfully the Setanta kick-of is just over a week away.

Yet already that nubile institution bears an air of staleness as we prepare ourselves for re-runs of last year's fixtures. The contest is crying out for something new, and the sponsors must surely see this also. Derry City, Cork City, Drogheda United, Linfield, Glentoran and Dungannon Swifts. Those six sides are participating for the third consecutive year.

All else has been the stuff of cameo as the odd cup winner floated to the surface or the odd league winner sunk to the bottom. We will endure endless speculation regarding the ring-rustiness of the eL contenders versus the leggy limbs of jaded part-time operatives from the Irish League contestants. Felix & Pat will attempt to bring some sex appeal to the live offerings as Will Downing freezes at pitchside on an icy Tuesday night in February or March.

Then just as we feel that things are heating up, it will be gone. Until October. Again we will hear about leggy limbs versus fresh muscle, but the eL lads are full-timers so it shouldn't be a problem type-thing. Managers will moan about the fixture lists, the demands on the players and all the rest of the showboating that goes on around getting your excuses in first.

What of the fans? All we want is action. No more frustrating friendlies with UTP's (Unidentified Trialling Players) flooding the field for the second-half of a one-paced contest against an opposition eleven inundated with same. Yes we know it's all part of the incremental process of attaining peak fitness at just the right time but we're dying here - give us a competitive game and give us it soon.

Back to Denis & the Smarties; who cares? The FAI are in no position to turn down an offer like this one. You can't please some of the people any of the time. Were the ruling body firing grotesquely large paychecks the way of the aging - and which of us aren't? - Italian, there would be a complaining body. Were they to hire Terry Venables - and for a long time that threat prevailed - there would be a complaining body. Had they hired any one of the countless other half-cooked washed out managers there would be an uprising.

Here we are on Quality Street, and someone else is paying. Without a doubt the most decorated and qualified manager we have ever appointed - unfortunately he is nearing antiquity- let's hope he takes his Benecol every morning. It's a novel approach for Irish football and a gamble well worth taking. Maybe, just maybe, we'll all be kissing inflatable Denis O'Brien's in a couple of years.

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